‘Jennifer Hudson’ retools ‘Ellen’ set pieces, creating inconsistent look

The latest entry from Warner Bros. into syndicated talk, “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” debuted Sept. 12, 2022, from the space previously occupied by “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” — and there were still hints of “Ellen” that stuck around (has anyone checked if she’s hiding in a dressing room somewhere?).

While some primary areas of the set were retooled, other parts of the set were easily recognizable as holdovers from the “Ellen” days, though most did receive at least a bit of an update.

One of the most obvious examples of this is the massive sliding doors-video wall camera left that Ellen DeGeneres entered through. Of course, the “Ellen” graphics and familiar simulated checkerboard pattern (leftover from the days when this wall was made of segmented lightboxes fronted with a simulated stone look) are no longer shown. 

In fairness, considering what this element must have cost given its size and motorized elements, it’s not surprising that producers opted to keep it.

The space behind the sliding walls is similar to the days of “Ellen,” where it served as a performance and multipurpose area and featured additional large LED video panels.

Also, while the audience area was updated cosmetically, it was fairly easy to see that, structurally, it was very similar to the “Ellen” days. 

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One big update is a large white floor segment with a “J.Hud” abbreviation emblazoned on it. That same abbreviation is used in the bug and is also the name of Jennifer Hudson’s production company. 

All that said, the central part of the space was rebuilt as a semi-circular core with a curved sofa in front. In the center is a large structural element fronted with an oversized seamless LED array while on either side simulated windows are separated by paneled walls with sconces.

The furnishings are done in soft shades of beiges, grays and reds, with the sofa seeming to become part of the set organically. This is accompanied by a pale wood-toned coffee table with exaggerated wood spheres as legs.

The softer tones and curves give this area a bit of a flashback to the late 1990s and early 2000s, perhaps a nod to when Hudson rose to fame on “America Idol.”

Meanwhile, the show’s graphics and other elements bring a bold pop of color to the space. The show’s key art and open use a blend of orange, violets, magentas and golds along with sparkles and light bursts. These are brought onto the set thanks to the two large video arrays as well as integrated edge and accent lighting in bold colors, such as the violet vertical lines found in the home base background.

Whereas “Ellen” had an abundance of succulents on her set, Jennifer Hudson’s background is more floral. 

To the far camera right of home base is a space for a piano that’s wrapped in a tall wall featuring framed prints. Large, dark, floor-to-ceiling curtains frame this part of the studio.

Guests enter from behind the center structural element, walking behind a row of floral accents to a gap that leads to the heart of the set.

Overall, the “Jennifer Hudson Show” set feels a bit disjointed. The gentle curves in the primary area aren’t carried out well in the leftovers from “Ellen,” which are boxy. The piano area feels cramped and makeshift — and also doesn’t read well on camera.

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While the sofa area’s color palette and lines feel slightly dated, it is consistent — in the sense that it takes that concept and runs with it. The neon-style edge lighting adds to the effect, but then the set abruptly changes to a flat wall with chair rail that has little in common with the main space.

As mentioned, the large video sliding video wall and audience scenery don’t help build much consistency. 

Images courtesy of Warner Bros.

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